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The exhibition will display the incredible collection of Italian Gianni Bellini
The exhibit is expected to prove a huge hit with football-obsessed youngsters – and with adults whose inner child remembers the thrills of the 1990, 1994 and 2002 tournaments
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Ralph Riegel

Football fans counting down the minutes to the Qatar ’22 FIFA World Cup can reconnect with their inner child thanks to an incredible exhibition of sporting memorabilia.
The free exhibition – entitled 'Chasing The Ball' – will open in Cork this weekend and will display the incredible collection of Italian Gianni Bellini, considered to be the world's foremost collector of football stickers and albums.
It consists of a vast display of football stickers and materials focusing on the Irish and Italian football teams from the 1990, 1994 and 2002 tournaments.
There will also be a special area dedicated to players such as Roy Keane and Roberto Baggio.
The exhibit is expected to prove a huge hit with football-obsessed youngsters – and with adults whose inner child remembers the thrills of the 1990, 1994 and 2002 tournaments.
Mr Bellini loaned elements of his vast collection to the Italian Institute of Culture in Dublin for the exhibition and he will attend the exhibition opening.
The stickers, some of which are very rare and valuable, were purchased in Ireland, Italy and around the world during the World Cup events and are kept in the archive of Museo della Figurina.
The curators of the museum have studied, selected and scanned the stickers and the albums to be shown in the special Cork exhibition.
Amongst the stickers and trading cards are tributes to some of Ireland's finest players including Packie Bonner, Steve Staunton, Robbie Keane, Paul McGrath and Ray Houghton.
But Italian legends will also feature heavily in the exhibit including Paulo Maldini, Gianluigi Buffon and Salvatore 'Toto' Schillaci who, of course, scored the goal at Italia '90 that knocked Ireland out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage.
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The exhibition opens at 4pm at St Peter’s Centre in Cork and will run until December 7.
It is organised and supported by the Italian Institute of Culture in Dublin and the Embassy of Italy to Ireland.
The Ambassador of Italy Ruggero Corrias and the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Deirdre Forde will attend the opening event on Sunday.
Italian Institute of Culture director, Marco Gioacchini, said it was a unique sports culture event.
“As World Cup '22 is approaching, we thought it would be a great opportunity to celebrate Irish-Italian friendship by a common exhibition featuring both countries at the World Cup," he said.
"We focused on Ireland reaching the final leg as well as when the two teams played together. Italia '90 is especially full of souvenirs for both countries so the Italian Institute of Culture asked the Museo della Figurina to create a new exhibition focusing on that period of time and those national teams."
"It is a brand new exhibition especially conceived for Ireland and entirely funded by the Italian Institute of Culture in Dublin.”
As well as featuring the top players from past World Cups, the exhibition will also feature memorabilia associated with the team managers including the legendary Jack Charlton.
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